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Microsoft to announce set top box

This is kind of a weird one. Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer is giving the first big speech of CES and will apparently announce a set top box with version of the Windows operating system for web enabled TVs. It will sell for about $200 and run out of Windows Media Center. This is odd for a couple reasons: first, unlike Apple's iTunes system, Microsoft has no real history of being a living room entertainment company. And second, what history they have has always run through the Xbox, with the idea that that system is not just for games but for all your casual needs. It's also classic Microsoft. Ever since the days of Lotus Notes vs. Excel or WordPerfect vs. Word, Microsoft followed a pattern of waiting for someone else to set the market, then Microsoft would come in with a competitor product that was higher end or better integrated into Windows or a lot cheaper. You saw it with video games when PlayStation was established and the Xbox was brought in. But it doesn't always work. Witness the sad doomed Kin phone, pulling up after the smartphone market was all set. Can Windows Phone 7 compete? We don't know yet but we just know that it's late. So will this TV box be a Kin or an Xbox?

We can only hope that the presentation goes a little something like this:

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.

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